Surging pollution takes toll on city’s health: Environment report

‘2,240 deaths due to air-borne diseases in 2011 as compared to 2,001 in 2010’

Written by Express News Service | Published: July 31, 2012 1:27:18 am

‘2,240 deaths due to air-borne diseases in 2011 as compared to 2,001 in 2010’

The downside of rapid urbanisation over the last few years seems to have manifested itself in rising pollution levels,which in turn has led to an increase in the number of deaths due to various diseases.

According to the Environment Status Report (ESR) for 2011 tabled in the PMC general body meeting on Monday,the city’s environment and human health have been adversely affected due to pollution. However,the evaluation of various thematic indicators has shown an improvement of conditions in the city. The city scored 73.44 per cent in 2011 as against 72.5 per cent in 2010 on these indicators. This is attributed to the increase in basic services and efforts for environment conservation.

“We have been able to present the environment status of the city along with the impact of initiatives to check pollution. The efforts have started showing posititive results. We would make more efforts to improve the environmental condition of the city and provide better quality of life to citizens,” said Naresh Zurmure,additional municipal commissioner,during the presentation on ESR.

As per the report,there were 2,240 deaths due to air-borne diseases in 2011 as compared to 2,001 deaths in 2010. The number of deaths due to tuberculosis and encephalitis has gone up while those due to pneumonia and meningitis have reduced.

The number of deaths due to water pollution reduced from 780 to 755 but deaths due to cholera went up from 24 in 2010 to 79 in 2011. Deaths due to vector-borne disease reduced from 100 in 2010 to 24 in 2011. There has been impact on the physical as well as mental health of citizens due to increased pollution.

The ESR states that the changing lifestyle of citizens too has had its impact. Deaths due to cancer have increased from 507 in 2010 to 654 in 2011. There have been 1,343 deaths in 2011 due to diabetes as compared to 1,228 deaths in 2010. Hypertension claimed 1,149 lives in 2011 as against 1,086 in 2010. There has also been an increase in the number of deaths due to renal failure. The figures for deaths due to heart failure have not changed much. Deaths due to cardiac arrest dropped from 2,624 in 2010 to 2,488 in 2011.

In its report,the administration concluded that by 2005,land use increased by 105.58 sq km as compared to 1987. Residential land has gone up to 103.74 sq km. It was 50.58 km in 1987. Land for roads increased from 22 sq km to 31.78 sq km in the same period. In 2011-12,the PMC approved proposals for 4,623 buildings with a total FSI of 74 lakh sq m. In 2010-11,it approved 4,420 building proposals with a total 63 lakh sq m of FSI.

The level of dissolved oxygen reduced in the rivers passing through the city due sewage and chemical waste being dumped there. Due to concretisation of land,the areas through which water table is recharged from rainwater has reduced and it is neccessary to take up rainwater harvesting,the report says.

The initiatives of the PMC for restoration of Katraj and Pashan lake has helped in increasing dissolved oxygen levels. This has resulted in the growth of aquatic life and the return of birds.

There has also been a rise in sound pollution in various parts of the city,the report says.

The ESR suggests that policy decisions to control pollution in the city are needed. The impact of increasing pollution will be evident in the next two decades,it says. It also mentions that the city has lost a few species of plants and animals to urbanisation. There has been increase in number of scavenger animals and birds,which has led to imbalance in the ecosystem and urgent control is needed to check their population,it says. Solid waste management should be decentralised by setting up small capacity processing plants across the city,which would help the PMC reduce its annual expense of Rs 65 crore for transporting waste to Phursungi.

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